Foreign Minister Abdullah (file photo)
18 August 2005 -- Afghan, Australian, and U.S. diplomats today dismissed concerns that increased attacks by neo-Taliban might hamper the country's parliamentary and local elections in September.
Visiting Australia's capital Canberra, Afghanistan's Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah told reporters that the environment in most of Afghanistan would be conducive to free and fair elections on 18 September.
His Australian counterpart, Alexander Downer, said the presidential election in Afghanistan in October 2004 and recent elections in Iraq and East Timor suggested the ballot would be peaceful.
Earlier Downer announced that Australia would send 150 elite troops to Afghanistan to help prevent militants from disrupting the polling.
In Kabul, the new U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Ronald Neumann, said there were enough local and international security forces in the country to safeguard the elections.
Abdullah today officially opened the new Afghan Embassy in Canberra. He is also scheduled to meet with Prime Minister John Howard as well as Australia's defense and immigration ministers.
(AP/Reuters)Recent items on the Afghan elections:
"Afghanistan: Election Campaign Begins On Airwaves"
"Afghanistan: Threats, Intimidation Reported Against Female Candidates"[Also see RFE/RL's dedicated Afghanistan Votes 2004-05 webpage.]